President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have contacted lesbian basketballer Brittney Griner’s wife “to reassure her” the administration is working to free from “wrongful detention” in a Russian prison.
The 31-year-old athlete was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine.
A search of the basketballer’s luggage allegedly revealed a small amount of cannabis oil in vape cartridges.
Russian authorities charged Griner with “large-scale transportation of drugs,” The New York Times reported. The offence carries a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars in Russia”.
After more than 130 days in detention, Brittney Griner went on trial in Russia at the weekend. The U.S. government has classified her as “wrongfully detained”.
The seven-time WNBA All-Star this week wrote a letter to Biden pleading him to help her.
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” she said.
“I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you, I believe in you.
“I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore.
Griner went on, “I realise you are dealing with so much. But please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.”
‘Working to free Brittney Griner as soon as possible’
In response, President Biden and Vice President Harris have spoken with Brittney’s wife Cherelle Griner about their efforts to get the basketballer out of her “intolerable circumstances”.
“The President called Cherelle to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible,” a White House statement read.
“The President offered his support to Cherelle and Brittney’s family, and he committed to ensuring they are provided with all possible assistance while his administration pursues every avenue to bring Brittney home.”
President Biden and Vice President Harris spoke earlier today with Cherelle Griner, the wife of Brittney Griner. pic.twitter.com/sVbLlRwhEQ
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 6, 2022
Earlier this week, Cherelle shared her frustration over the seemingly stalled efforts to free her wife.
“I’ll find that balance of… harm versus help in pushing our government to do everything that’s possible,” she told CBS.
“Because being quiet, they’re not moving. They’re not doing anything.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the basketball star’s release “has been top of mind for the President”.
She said Biden was “receiving daily updates” about the negotiations around her release.
“We’re going to do everything, the President’s going to do everything that he can in his power to bring her home,” she said.
“As well as with other US nationals who are being held wrongfully detained abroad.”
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